Six-year-old Finley Chapman was diagnosed with the rare disease aged two and was hospitalized over Christmas 2018 and 2019.
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His mum Clare, from Pudsey, said a nurse gave Finley an advent calendar ahead of a hospital Christmas – a gesture that had a big impact on his family.
She said: “It made us realize that people were still thinking about us.
“It meant so much that someone kindly donated this at a time when we felt very lost and alone.”
This inspired Clare to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which funded over 550 advent calendars for youngsters cared for at Leeds Children’s Hospital for Christmas 2019.
She collected and donated 733 advent calendars last year and this year raised a record 1,316 calendars.
They have been distributed to children at a number of hospitals and care centres, including Leeds Children’s Hospital, Barnardos in Leeds and Farnley Children’s Centre.
Clare said: “I thought it might be a bit difficult this year with Covid hitting businesses and people not having as much spare cash.
“But the support has been incredible, it has blown me away.”
Parents of children from several primary schools in Leeds have donated advent calendars and collections have also taken place in supermarkets.
The schools involved were Pudsey Waterloo, Pudsey Primrose Hill, Armley Park and Calverley Parkside.
Leeds Children’s Hospital matron Sarah Fletcher said: “We are very grateful to Clare and everyone who has donated.
“For children facing Christmas in hospital, separated from their families, it’s so important to have something to look forward to every day.
“We are able to tell families that each calendar is donated by someone who has been in their position and understands what it is like to be in hospital over Christmas, which makes it such a meaningful gift. and we know that everyone is truly appreciated.”
Finley was born with a rare condition that meant he choked on every meal and said it was a constant battle to keep him alive for more than two years.
Finley was two and a half when it was discovered that a dairy intolerance had caused a rare allergic disorder that prevented him from swallowing food properly.
Finley spent the first two weeks of his life in the special baby care unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
He was underweight and had difficulty breathing and eating, but doctors could not pinpoint the problem.
Regularly hospitalized, he underwent two exploratory operations at the age of two after suffering from repeated lung infections and numerous pneumonias.
He also choked with every meal and was rushed to hospital by ambulance three times.
He was eventually diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis – an allergic disorder that causes inflammation of the esophagus.
Her health improved overnight after dairy products were removed from her diet.
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